How to create bookmarks using Word and Adobe Acrobat

Having bookmarks that replicate the table of contents (TOC) – and include the TOC – is one requirement of the procedures to submit a thesis or dissertation.  Bookmarks allow the reader to see a TOC wherever they are in the document, and navigate easily to that section of the document.  This tutorial will show you how to create bookmarks using Word and Adobe Acrobat on the PC.

To start, use styles consistently throughout your document to create a structure in your document.  If you are  using a numbered style for your outline, suggested styles are shown below for a generic document structure:

Table of Contents (Heading 7, not included in Table of Contents)

List of Figures (Heading 6)

List of Tables (Heading 6)

Acknowledgements (Heading 6)

Abstract (Heading 6)

1. Introduction (Heading 1)

1.1 Introduction sub-section (Heading 2)

1.2 Introduction sub-section (Heading 2)

1.3 Introduction sub-section (Heading 2)

1.3.1 Sub-section (Heading 3)

2. Hypotheses and Goals (Heading 1)


Heading styles are numbered 1-9.  The use of Heading 6 and 7 in the above sample is arbitrary.  If you only have one sub-section in each chapter, you may use Headings 3 and 4, for example.  If you are not using Word to number your chapters, you may use Heading 1 in place of Heading 6 in the example shown above.

In Word, go to the Acrobat tab, and select “Preferences.”

Select "Preferences" from the "Acrobat" tab in Word.

On the “Settings” tab, make sure that the “Create Bookmarks” box is checked.  Click on the “Bookmarks” tab.  Mac users will not find these options in Adobe Acrobat X.  They should either use the web based converter or a PC to convert their document.

Acrobat PDFMaker preferences. Make sure the "Create Bookmarks" box is checked.

On the “Bookmarks” tab, check the styles that you would like converted to bookmarks, and click on the “Level” number to select the appropriate level with the drop down menu that will appear.  Note that since Heading 6 and 7 are main sections, they are assigned Levl 1, along with Heading 1.

On the "Bookmarks" tab, select which headings need to be converted to bookmarks.

In Adobe Acrobat, click on the “Bookmarks” icon on the left hand side to display the bookmarks that exist in the document.

Click on the "Bookmarks" icon to show the bookmarks.

It’s nice to let your reader know there are bookmarks in the document by formatting the bookmarks panel to open automatically. In Adobe Acrobat, select “File…Properties…”  Select the “Initial View” tab, and in the “Navigation tab” drop down menu, select “Bookmarks Panel and Page” and then save your PDF file.  The next time you open your PDF file, you will see the bookmarks panel and the first page of the document.

Set the document to automatically open the bookmarks panel.